Schadenfreude. It’s what’s for breakfast*

Which is to say that there are few people in American politics I loathe so much as the wholly owned Koch subsidiary operating under the name Scott Walker.  There are plenty of folks doing more national damage, but few, if any, with the utter, total, almost heroic lack of redeeming qualities as the man Charlie Pierce epithets** as the goggle-eyed homunculus.

So his pain is the sugar in my coffee this a.m.:

“The Far Left” — thanks for the proper nouning** there, btw; I didn’t know we were a franchise operation — as in a decisive majority of Wisconsin voters. “Anger and hatred” — nothing like the mild mannered folks on the right,*** amirite? “Outside special interest money.” Child, please.

But, if it’s all projection with these guys, well we knew that. That subterranean pleasure you feel this morning is that all the faffing in the world can’t hide the genuine panic flowing through Walker like you-know-what through a goose.

And because we need something pretty to wash the memory of Walker’s pallid, grasping mug from our brains, here’s a bird that one-ups that poor goose:

And w/that…open thread.

*That or coke on your Wheaties.

**I verb sometimes. Sue me.

***Very, VERY far from the worst, as we all know, but selected for its exceptional combination of absurdity and cowardice.

Image: John James Audubon, Cygnus buccinator, Trumpeter Swan1838.



Walker Stumbles

Wisconsin gets its special elections:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order scheduling special elections to fill two vacant legislative seats Thursday…

It wasn’t shame, or a respect for the rule of law that drove the wholly owned Koch subsidiary to this decision.  Rather these guys finally got a clue:

Senate Republicans abandoned their efforts to pass a bill blocking the contests amid intense criticism that the GOP was trying to avoid adding to string of losses.

That is: it finally was driven home to these would be junta conspirators that being so obviously terrified of the voters was not merely a bad look, it was destructive.

The decision followed a very rapid rejection of Walker’s appeal, which sought a delay in enforcing a lower court’s order to call the elections that would last long enough for the WI legislature to pass their anti-election bill.  That court didn’t just say no:

“Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources,’ and the calling of the special elections are … his ‘obligation,’” Presiding Judge Paul F. Reilly wrote.

Walker had one more appeal left, to the right-dominated WI Supreme Court, but chose not to pursue it.  IANAL, and IAN a Wisconsin politics maven, but here’s my guess: this was such an obvious matter on the law that Walker didn’t care to have his entrails handed to him a third time, especially given that the partisan lean of the court would highlight how out of bounds he and the state Republicans have been.

Anyway, a relatively small process win with, I think and hope, a bit more impact than that.  It’s easy to make the case that the GOP is only interested in democracy when it’s the North Korean version, no doubts at all about who wins.

That’s been true of the American right for a long time, no matter the party label of the day (3/5s of a person and all that).  But what seems to be changing now, maybe just a bit, perhaps even just enough, is that the idea that Republicans are scared of voters is starting to stick to the Grotesque Old Party.

Here’s hoping!

This thread, it opens.

Image: Constantin Hansen, A Group of Danish Artists in Rome, 1837.  I know it’s utterly unfair to lumber these 19th century hipsters with 21st century pipsqueak GOP shenanigans, but I couldn’t resist the image.



Oligarch Open Thread: Koch Bros, Still Monsters

The Boston Globe:

“We’ve made more progress in the past five years than I had in the last 50,” declared Charles Koch, the 82-year old billionaire, addressing a group of about 550 donors who gathered in Indian Wells for the Kochs’ winter policy and politics weekend seminar.

But this era of gains, which brought them a massive tax cut, a queue of conservative federal judges, and an administration full of friendly regulators, could all be gone if Democrats claw back control of the government.

So the vast network has pledged to devote around $400 million toward politics and policy in the midterms to hold the GOP majorities in both chambers. That’s 60 percent more than the network spent in 2014, when Republicans picked up nine seats in the Senate and 13 seats in the House of Representatives.

The sum includes $20 million that Koch and his brother David plan to put behind efforts to popularize the $1.5 trillion tax cut. The network spent $20 million last year pushing the legislation.

“We have a ways to go,” said Koch, teeing up his Big Ask to the well-coiffed group of donors who contribute at least $100,000 a year to Koch-aligned groups. “So my challenge to all of us is to increase the scale and effectiveness of this network by an order of magnitude. By another 10-fold on top of all the growth and progress we’ve already made. Because if we do that, I’m convinced we can change the trajectory of this country.”…

Voters have been skeptical of the tax law in part because much of the benefit is focused on businesses like those run by the Kochs and their allies. The tax cuts directly benefit Koch Industries by $1 billion to $1.4 billion a year, according to a recent analysis from Americans for Tax Fairness, a liberal advocacy group.
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Thank You, Repubs Open Thread: Poster Boy for the GOP Tax Scam

All hail Dave Roth, who first introduced Political Twitter to this remarkable member of the Lucky Sperm Club…

Spin has some video:

The Post describes the Wyatt Ingraham signature aesthetic as “out-there patterns and colors” which is a charitable way of saying that these are the busy shirts a middle-manager who fancies himself the office comedian wears on casual Friday. The remarkable part of this vanity endeavor is the short video Koch produced to sell the brand, construct his own self-mythology, and peel the curtain back on his creative process. One of the video’s boldest choices entails a Koch heir sitting for his talking head interview wearing a shirt emblazoned with bags of money, as if that image alone couldn’t resurrect the guillotine.

“My father said to me, ‘Wyatt, you can do whatever you want to in life. Just make sure you do it well and do it with passion,” the designer said to the camera, without a hint of self-awareness. The sons of literal billionaires do typically get to do whatever they want in life. That’s the perk of being born into a Scrooge McDuck vault full of gold coins…

This guy so totally needed further protection from the estate tax. Hey, it’s not as though he were capable of surviving without a deep, deep cushion of daddy’s money…

What’s the lives and health of thousands of sick kids and poor people, compared to such visions of pure CLASS?



Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Grifters Applaud Their Own

“United in Purpose” has an even lower profile than Ginni Thomas’ main grift, “Liberty Central”, whose main purpose seems to be keeping Ginni too busy to drunk-dial Anita Hill again. But if you assume UiP’s real purpose is to provide a conduit from “conservative” suckers with too much money to “activists” with more greed than sense…

NYMag:

The “heroes” honored by United for Purpose had to meet certain criteria laid out on the website for the Impact Awards. These are people who show “tenacity, courage and perseverance even under hostile attacks” and are “respected among their peers,” among other things. O’Keefe, who just made a fool of himself in an attempt to stick up for a sexual predator, apparently meets that criteria in the eyes of right-wing activists.
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Open Thread: Defending the DREAMers

This meets my criteria for the epitome of ‘mixed feelings’. Anything involving the Kochs, of course, needs to be critically examined for hidden pitfalls. On the other hand, if even these amoral monsters are standing up in defense of young people whose only crime was being born to the wrong parents… well, it is to be hoped that this indicates Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, and Rep. Steve King represent an extinction burst and not a successful revival of racism as a winning political tactic…

Spokespeople for the Koch network confirmed to The Daily Beast that it will press Congress for a legislative fix to the recently rescinded Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that shielded undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.

The Kochs’ backing could provide a crucial boost to efforts to preserve DACA, which Trump announced this week he will phase out over the course of six months. Congress has scrambled to find a replacement for those legal protections that are set to be removed. And Trump himself signaled early support for the DREAM Act, which would, essentially, codify the DACA protections that Obama had imposed via executive action…

With its formidable political and policy operation, the Koch network could provide more political cover to Republican members of Congress as they consider a replacement to the DACA program. Koch network alumni are sprinkled throughout Trump’s inner circle, and include White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short and Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who now advises a prominent independent political group supporting the president…



The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

While we focus on the various obvious bathetic catastrophes (from blowing secrets to the Russians to the big man’s collapsing in a heap after a mere one day on the road) committed by the shitgibbon and his band of merry (but never gay — oh no! not that) men, it’s important to keep at least some attention on the rolling, very real damage the Trump administration wreaks on a daily basis.

I’m so far behind on a book project that I can’t really keep up, and I certainly can’t blog with anything remotely resembling depth and insight, so I’m going to try instead to throw up quick posts as various bits of policy news cross my magpie’s field of vision.

This morning’s treat comes via a Saturday story in FTFNYT.*  Under Scott Pruitt, it seems, the EPA has become the Captain Renault of environmental regulators: everything has its price, and the Captain is always eager to make a deal:

Devon Energy, which runs the windswept site, had been prepared to install a sophisticated system to detect and reduce leaks of dangerous gases. It had also discussed paying a six-figure penalty to settle claims by the Obama administration that it was illegally emitting 80 tons each year of hazardous chemicals, like benzene, a known carcinogen.

But something changed in February just five days after Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general with close ties to Devon, was sworn in as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Devon, in a letter dated Feb. 22 and obtained by The New York Times, said it was “re-evaluating its settlement posture.” It no longer intended to move ahead with the extensive emissions-control system, second-guessing the E.P.A.’s estimates on the size of the violation, and it was now willing to pay closer to $25,000 to end the three-year-old federal investigation.

The administration’s response?

The E.P.A. has not yet made a public response to Devon’s new posture, and Mr. Pruitt declined to comment for this article.

Want to bet on how it will turn out?

In just the last three months, with Mr. Pruitt in charge, the E.P.A. postponed a long-planned rule requiring companies like Devon to retrofit drilling equipment to prevent leaks of methane gas — a major contributor to climate change — and to collect more data on how much of the gas is spewing into the air.

The Interior Department, meanwhile, announced this month that it would reconsider a separate rule limiting the burning of unwanted methane gas from wells drilled on federal and Indian lands, a process called flaring. That announcement came the same day the Senate narrowly rejected industry calls to repeal the same rule.

Interior officials have also announced their intention to repeal or revise a contentious rule requiring companies like Devon to take extra steps to prevent groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, a drilling technique in which chemicals and water are forced into rock formations.

You get the idea. Pruitt has a history of working with Devon Energy; the administration has both a pro-extractive industry bias and powerful faction and the always reliable motive of f**king with anything that Obama accomplished.  Some of what the shitgibbon’s people aim to do can, no doubt, be delayed, obstructed, tied up.  Much, perhaps most will go through, at least over the next year or so, up until the pressures of the next election begin to bite.

So:  constant vigilance and trust no Republican. They’ll load up anything they can on anything they can, transferring public goods (clean air, clean water, anything not nailed down) to private hands.

Over to y’all.

*Publication of such stories  is why I continue to subscribe. Their political desk is…dodgy…but they still field more fine reporters than just about anywhere else I can think of. YM, as always, MV.

Image: Elihu Vedder, Corrupt Legislation, mural in the Library of Congress, 1896.